Shepparton News

Region brimming with birds

THE NEXT TIME YOU TAKE A STROLL, SEE HOW MANY DIFFERENT BIRDS YOU CAN SEE ACROSS THE REGION

- By Rosa Ritchie

Birdwatchi­ng is an ideal spring-time activity, particular­ly during a pandemic.

And Shepparton is home to a thriving cross-section of species, as Birdlife Murray Goulburn member Pat Feehan documented on a recent walk at Reedy Swamp.

Of the 42 bird species Mr Feehan spotted as he strolled the wetland, a few raptors stood out.

‘‘We saw a swamp harrier and seven whistling kites,’’ he said.

‘‘They’re probably going around raiding all the other nests.’’

There were big flocks of straw-necked ibises high in the sky and a shy Latham’s snipe waded in the shallow water.

Mr Feehan said spotting 42 species was on the higher end of the number he would expect.

‘‘For us it’s a pretty good number, we’d expect somewhere between 30 or 40 — it depends on the water levels, the weather, and the time of year as well,’’ he said.

‘‘At Reedy Swamp in particular, the water in-flow changes from month to month — at the moment there’s a bit of water going in, and over summer that dries out and it changes the mix of birdlife.’’

Spring is a fantastic season for birdwatchi­ng, according to Mr Feehan, and a great opportunit­y for budding enthusiast­s to give it a go.

Mr Feehan and his wife, Denise, have been birders for five years and still see birds they’ve never spotted before on their daily walks in and around Shepparton.

They saw a rufous songlark for the first time recently, which one online guide described as a ‘‘plain brownish’’ songbird with a spectacula­r song, including ‘‘long sequences of trills and loud electrical phrases’’ — looks could be deceiving.

As the weather warms up, snakes are also out and about, so be aware of your surroundin­gs when your eyes are on the sky.

Mr Feehan has also seen two tiger snakes in recent weeks.

‘‘They are getting around so people do need to be aware,’’ he said.

But these natural members of the ecosystem shouldn’t be a deterrent to prospectiv­e birders.

‘‘It’s great fun,’’ Mr Feehan, who discovered the passion in retirement, said.

‘‘You can get sucked in.’’

 ??  ?? Unusual sounds: A crested pigeon’s most distinctiv­e behaviour is the beating and whistling sound its wings make on take-off.
Unusual sounds: A crested pigeon’s most distinctiv­e behaviour is the beating and whistling sound its wings make on take-off.
 ?? A New Holland honeyeater. Pictures: Pat Feehan ?? Striking markings:
A New Holland honeyeater. Pictures: Pat Feehan Striking markings:
 ??  ?? Like a bird on a wire: A female superb fairy-wren.
Like a bird on a wire: A female superb fairy-wren.
 ??  ?? A colourful character: The red-rumped parrot.
A colourful character: The red-rumped parrot.

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